Author Topic: Have at it fellas (Feds getting involved in railroad crossings)  (Read 440 times)

OrangeAndBlack

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On one hand, I think this story is ridiculous. On a local level, Terre Haute has been cheap and reactive instead of proactive for nearly all of its history when it comes to dealing with its many railroad crossings. The ceaseless moaning about it is dumb if you have any knowledge of railroads at all. (It is getting a bridge at 13th and 8th Avenues which will help a lot.)

On the other hand? Iíve said many times on here that political involvement in this issue was inevitable because itís a canít lose issue for both parties. People complain about the monolithic railroad, that, in many cases, has no direct local tie to the populace? And, thus, no constituency of its own? Low-hanging fruit.

That, to me, is the crux of why this is a lightning rod for political involvement. Railroads no longer have any ties to the communities they run through. The days where Uncle So-And-So worked the tower or worked in the yard are mostly gone. To the everyday person, and 99 percent of the people have zero tie to the railroad industry, railroads are a nuisance that need to be governed to their lives, not the other way around.

So good luck, railroad industry, when it comes to rising up against that tide of public sentiment which will eventually affect judicial sentiment too and already is beginning to permeate the political discourse.

And to be honest? The railroads do themselves zero favors by hiding behind federal law to do little to nothing about mitigating these issues themselves. A little PR and public education would go a long ways towards smoothing thinge out.

https://www.tribstar.com/news/local_news/often-stopped-by-trains-feds-want-to-know/article_2353df9e-f50f-51a9-9057-ff3446ee9c03.html

Rick

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Re: Have at it fellas (Feds getting involved in railroad crossings)
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2019, 01:16:03 PM »
I donít know the rail traffic patterns in terre haute, so Iím taking a stab at this with a blind eye.  Why are trains stopping for long periods of times multiple times a day?   Are these a local that services the city?  I doubt it because locals arenít usually very long and typically occupy only a crossing or two.  Are these trains road trains?  If so, why are they stopping in town and not holding out outside the city?  If they are holding out in the city then why so long?  Poor train management by the crew, not holding out where they are suppose to(signal indication railroad some crews run by).  Poor dispatching, by person or computer, not sure if csx has implemented that yet.  Is the holdout in town and only blocks a few crossings and the public exaggerating the crossings being blocked and the distances they travel to get around?  As for terre haute, why havenít they put in a couple of under or over passes if this has been a problem for so long?  Elkhart and Goshen have done this 3-4 times in the last decade with mostly government funds, why hasnít terre haute tried the same until just now? 

I get it not wanting to be blocked by trains.  Nobody likes it even for a few minutes and if thatís all it is then suck it up.  However, if they are legitimately blocking multiple crossings for 20-30 mins or more, multiple times a day, thatís ridiculous and it absolutely needs to be addressed. 


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OrangeAndBlack

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Re: Have at it fellas (Feds getting involved in railroad crossings)
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2019, 01:48:02 PM »
Terre Haute is a bit unique (maybe) in that two CSX mainlines (Indy Sub, C&ED) intersect right through the heart of the city. Thereís not one bridge over any of the portion where they come together, though one is planned for 13th Street where the two lines come together.

Add to that? Duane Yard is on the north side on the old NYC/Conrail Indy-St. Louis line. Baker Yard is south on the old C&EI Chicago-Evansville line. Even INRD plays a role in the crossing issue as Van Yard sits right next to a crossing for four-lane Fruitridge Avenue, a main drag.

Though Duane has more capacity, I think itís actually less of a problem than Baker can be. Most of the stopped trains, in my observation, occur on the south side of TH at Baker. It is not unusual for a train to stop at or near Baker and it will block 10 crossings in TH all the way back to downtown. There is no viable way around it ... and this is coming from someone whoís a road and railroad geek, not an everyday someone who only pays attention to the roads they normally drive on.

The new Margaret Avenue bridge helps, but its on the south end of Baker ...  the wrong direction from the business and population centers.

Thatís not to say that stoppages donít happen north side either. They do there too.

As for TH bridges? Yes, the city has been monumentally stupid about it for years.How thereís no downtown bridge over the CE&D is insane.

And then theyíve had bad luck/planning.  When a set of bridges was built in the 80s, one was for U.S. 41 over Conrail (still heavily used by CSX), but the other big one was for Fruitridge Avenue over the then-Conrail, ex-PRR line. The line was abandoned within a year or two of when the bridge was built. Now, itís a white elephant ... and it probably has at least a little to do with THís recent reluctance to build bridges. (Though it doesnít explain the previous 70 years of reluctance!)

What doesnít help matters, PR-wise, is when you have an employee hoping off his stopped train to buy donuts while crossings were blocked, of which video footage was captured recently in TH. I know itís minor in the grand scheme, but for the populace? It comes off as a railroad thumbing its nose at their concerns. Whoever did that did a lot of damage and poured fuel on the fire of a lot of existing local frustration about railroads.

Rick

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Re: Have at it fellas (Feds getting involved in railroad crossings)
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2019, 02:43:31 PM »
Ok, the south side of town getting into baker yard.  Why is it taking so long for a train to yard into baker?    Is this a manned yard(yardmaster or Trainmaster, uman on duty)?  Are they building a train, setting out a train, are the tracks very short requiring multiple moves?  10 crossings, that must be one lengthy train or they have very close crossings to one another.  If the dispatcher or whoever is in charge knows they canít get in then why arenít they holding out outside the city?  Is this also a possible crew issue with one or both of them dragging their feet?  I know thatís a question that non of us can really answer unless you know a crew member.  Every railroad has a few of them, unfortunately.


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OrangeAndBlack

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Re: Have at it fellas (Feds getting involved in railroad crossings)
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2019, 03:57:29 PM »
Canít answer the railroad yard question, but yes, itís a combination of long trains, plus, close together crossings. And, yes, it seems worse in the precision railroading age.

Hulman Street, a main drag in TH, is right at the north end of Baker, just like Margaret was right at the south end before it bridge was built. Blocking Hulman is one thing, given its proximity, but trains are regularly long enough to reach back to downtown TH.

Iíve seen trains block Hulman, Washington, College, 13th, Crawford, Poplar, Walnut, Ohio, Wabash and Chestnut all at once with some regularity, maybe three times a month. For a while, there was one that arrived about 5:15 p.m. like clockwork ... right when people working downtown are heading east to go home.

My ďworld recordĒ was all of the above crossings plus Spruce (north), Margaret (before the bridge), Davis and Springhill. It was likely two trains, one entering Baker from each side, but it had the entire south side of TH choked off for almost an hour.

Itís stuff like that which gets regular folks riled up ... though at the same time ďregular folksĒ need to pony up for some bridges too.

ac4400cw

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Re: Have at it fellas (Feds getting involved in railroad crossings)
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2019, 04:58:34 PM »
Fostoria Ohio has the same grade crossing problem but in a slightly smaller town.  They decided to add a Railfan park and make money off of the fans.
Locals don't seem to mind that much about the trains.   The college kids should be glad about all the grade crossings.  Gives them more time to check FaceBook.